THE MELTDOWN: It’s A Long Road (Hope Street Recordings)

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THE MELTDOWN are a Melbourne-based band who specialise in Southern flavoured country soul and they made their album debut in 2017 with a well-received eponymous set. This year the band have entertained us with a couple of singles – a  loud, twangy-guitar-led, brassy, brash, tough ‘River’ and the more gentle, pared back ‘Side By Side’ which, with vocalist  Simon Burke’s soulful falsetto out front has a feel of the last wonderful Mamas Gun album.

Both those songs sit perfectly on Meltdown’s latest album project, ‘It’s A Long Road’, which is released via Hope Street Recordings on July 29th. Equally those songs represent both sides of the band’s sound. They are capable of blasting out Southern flavoured, emotion-seared  soul whilst retaining the ability to work in a  more understated fashion.

The album opens with one of those brassy, brash tracks – ‘Tell You Not To Worry’ and there’s more of the same on the broody, mournful  title track (with guest input from Emma Donovan) but the most authentic Southern soul feel comes on ‘Open Heart’ and ‘Into Temptation’ – if you were told these were long lost Fame or Goldwax artefacts you’d believe it. ‘Lie To Me’ is a little different. With its off kilter horns and mysterious vocal, its more New Orleans than Muscle Shoals. Best of the bluesy, soul cuts though is the closing ‘Hard Time Letting Go’. Here  the obvious reference point is Bobby Bland.

The ”other” side of Meltdown is, as we’ve said, represented by the lighter ‘Side By Side’ and the even more immediate ‘Hold On To Hope’ which has a crisp, 60s feel – blue-eyed soul of the highest order! Then for something quite different there’s the country-tinged ‘Not The Only Love’. This is a sweet duet between Simon Burke and Liz Stringer and it reminds me a little of Bruce Springsteen’s more recent albums. ‘A Lonesome Way’ is another country meander and these “different” sounds add real variety to an album that might have proved a little too overpowering if it were top heavy on the tougher flavours.

BB) 3/5